Our Broken LGBT Community🌈 🌈

Unfortunately the majority of cases of domestic abuse involve a male abusing a female. A less widely reported statistic is the level of domestic abuse in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.

The LGBT Foundation quotes a survey which estimates that 1 in 4 LGBT people experience domestic abuse. This figure puts the issue on par with that of abuse against heterosexual women.

But as with heterosexual relationships, many cases of LGBT domestic abuse go widely unreported. One of the main reasons is because an LGBT person experiencing domestic abuse is less likely to tell a health care professional for fear of disclosing their sexual orientation.

Unique Aspects of LGBT Domestic Abuse

In any domestic abuse scenario the abuser will seek to gain power and control through the use of:

• Emotional bullying

• Physical violence and threats

• Social isolation

• Financial control

• Sexual abuse

However, in addition to these, there are also forms of abuse which are specific to the LGBT community. In those cases the abuser may also:

• Question your sexuality by suggesting you are not a “real” lesbian or a “real” man.

• Reinforce internalised homophobia, biphobia or transphobia by suggesting that being heterosexual is the “correct way to be”.

• Argue that health care professionals and the authorities will not take you seriously on account of your sexual orientation.

• Threaten to disclose your sexual orientation to your family, ex-partner, work colleagues or employer.

• Threaten to use your sexual orientation against you in court when dealing with issues such as deciding the residence or contact with children.

• Argue that abuse is not possible between two people of the same-sex, or brush it off as “fighting”.

The government defines domestic abuse as “any incident or pattern of controlling, coercive, threatening behaviour or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are, or have been, intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality.”

The implementation of the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004 gives those who are experiencing abuse from a same-sex partner equal rights to those who are in a heterosexual relationship.

If you have and are experiencing domestic abuse or a survivor of abuse you can get support and advice from the National Helpline Broken Rainbow.

It is an organisation which specialises in offering support for LGBT people experiencing domestic abuse. Your are not alone, asking for help and support is the bravest, strongest and most courageous step that anyone can ever take.

Steven Connelly

Men Are Victims Too.

Men usually are blamed for abuse because of modern gender stereotypes. Women are perceived as the weaker, gentler sex, whereas men are perceived as being stronger and having natural tendencies toward violence. These stereotypes are false.

It is true, however, than women tend to abuse men differently than men abuse women. Women generally favor emotional abuse tactics, making the abuse much more difficult to detect.

Examples of the ways women perpetrate emotional abuse include:

• Extreme mood swings

• Constant anger or displeasure

• Withholding sex

• Name calling

• Public humiliation

Women rarely inflict physical abuse in the same way as men. However, it can still happen. Examples of the ways women perpetrate physical abuse include:

• Withholding Personal Finances

• Destroying possessions

• Biting

• Spitting

• Striking out with fists or feet

• Using weapons, such as guns or knives

Women frequently are excused for these behaviors. Some excuses include “she was abused when she was younger”; “she experienced severe emotional trauma”; or “it’s just hormones.”

Even if a man does not sustain serious (or even physical) injuries from these abusive episodes, the damage manifests itself in other ways.

• Abused men are more likely to linger at work or after-work activities because they don’t want to go home.

• When asked how the relationship is going, he will hide the truth, saying, “It’s going great.” He doesn’t want to appear weak, or if the abusive partner is present, he doesn’t want to incite another episode of abuse.

• Excessive reading, watching TV, or playing video games becomes his way of escaping reality. He also may turn to substance abuse, especially alcohol.

• Abused men demonstrate unwillingness to trust, low self-esteem, emotional numbness, or depression. In severe cases, this can lead to suicidal thoughts.

• Suicidal thoughts may stimulate a sudden interest in reckless behavior. This can be as casual as reckless driving or walking into the road without looking. Or it can be a fascination with extreme sports such as mountain biking, bungee jumping, and other thrills in which death would be considered accidental.

• Sometimes, the stress will manifest itself physically with vague physical symptoms like insomnia, fatigue, indigestion, and headaches.

Seeking Help

If you are being abused it’s important to remember that you are not alone.

Please call Abused Men In Scotland, on 0808 800 0024. This incredible organisation is open between Monday – Friday, 9am – 4pm.

Survivorsuk.org is here to help you also. Don’t suffer in silence and never be ashamed.

As I have previously mentioned you are not alone, and you are not weak for seeking outside help.

Steven Connelly

Issues Faced By Men With Epilepsy.

Men with epilepsy experience issues that are unique to their gender. These can be quite complex. They can vary with age, seizure type, severity, and overall health and lifestyle factors. This article will look at how epilepsy and its treatment may affect testosterone production, libido, and fertility in men.

Testosterone Production

It is estimated that 40% of men with epilepsy have lower levels of testosterone. This is the hormone that stimulates the development of male sex organs, sexual traits, and sperm.

Reduced testosterone can adversely affect energy, mood, sexual desire, sexual function, and bone strength.

It is thought that having epilepsy or anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs) may lower testosterone levels.

How epilepsy could cause hormonal changes:

– Seizures can alter the release of hypothalamic and pituitary hormones.

– Temporal lobe epilepsy can have adverse effects on testicular endocrine function.

How anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs) could cause hormonal changes:

– Research suggests that phenytoin, carbamazepine, and phenobarbital could reduce the level of free testosterone in the body.

Libido and Sexual Interest

All men, whether they have epilepsy or not, will experience problems with libido at some point in their lives. These problems may include losing interest in sex or having difficulty getting and/or staying aroused.

Common causes of sexual problems for men include stress, exhaustion, illness, alcohol, or having a long-term medical condition. Having epilepsy or taking AEDs could also cause problems. These can be due to:

Changes in the brain caused by seizures

Sexual desire is linked to the appropriate function of specific regions of the cerebral cortex, especially the frontal and temporal lobes. People with complex partial seizures seem to be more prone to problems with sexual desire, particularly when seizures originate in the temporal lobe. Research suggests that damage to the temporal lobe, common in people with partial epilepsy, also affects the ability to recognize subtle cues that are integral to establishing intimacy.

Exposure to anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs)

These can affect the brain regions that regulate sexuality and may also cause sexual dysfunction by secondary effects on reproductive hormones (such as testosterone). Researchers have found that diminished libido and arousal are more pronounced in men who are taking sedating AEDs, such as barbiturates, although adverse effects may also occur with any AED. In studies comparing the adverse effects of some specific AEDs on sexuality, researchers found that carbamazepine and phenytoin had more of negative effect on libido than lamotrigine.

If you are experiencing problems with libido, it is important to discuss this with a health care provider. A doctor may be able to prescribe another AED or another medication to help resolve these problems. They can also investigate other physical or psychological factors that may influence this.

Reproduction and Fertility

Research has found that men with epilepsy are at a higher risk of reproductive difficulties. This generally manifests as a lower sperm count and/or abnormal sperm characteristics.

The type of epilepsy, age of onset, and family history appear to have the biggest impact on reproductive dysfunction and infertility.

Studies have found thatmen who develop epilepsy at an earlier age (less than 10 years old) are more prone to reproductive difficulties than men who develop epilepsy at a later age. It has also been found that men with partial onset epilepsy are more prone to reproductive difficulties than those with generalized onset epilepsy.

Researchers have found that some AEDs are associated with reproductive dysfunction. Valproate has been linked to sperm tail abnormalities and reduced testicular volume. Carbamazepine and oxcarbazepine may also cause sperm abnormalities.

In Conclusion

It is important to note that epilepsy does not necessarily cause difficulties with testosterone production, libido, and/or fertility. As well, the medications taken for epilepsy should not always be seen as the culprit. Speak to a health care provider if you have questions or concerns about these issues. They have a variety of solutions that may help. You are not alone and you don’t need to tough it out. 

Steven Connelly

Men and Mental Health: A damaging Stigma

Mental health among men has been described as a silent crisis, largely because men are much less likely to seek treatment for mental health challenges than women.

In my blog post I will discuss mental health issues among men, why differences between the sexes may exist, and why we think the tide might finally be turning on the culture of stigma and shame when it comes to men’s mental health.

Depression and anxiety disorders are the most common mental health conditions and while they affect women at higher rates than men, over 6 million men struggle with depression and over 3 million men struggle with panic disorder or phobias in a given year. However, depression often manifests differently in men than women. Men are more likely to appear irritable, lose interest in their work or hobbies, or have difficulty with sleep.

Among adults, men are 2 to 3 times more likely than women to experience substance abuse or dependence. Illicit drug use is more likely to result in hospital visits or deaths by overdose for men than for women. Some have suggested that men are more likely than women to cope with life stress by using drugs or alcohol, and research indicates that men who are more committed to the male gender role experience more severe substance dependence and are more likely to abuse substances in response to stress.

As I’ve mentioned, unfortunately, men are less likely to seek treatment for mental health challenges than women. In my opinion this could be due to standards of masculinity, macho attitudes, or even men generally lacking the language needed to express their emotions, possibly due to different socialization or norms. It could also be that current models of mental health treatment are not well-suited to most men’s needs and preferences.

The good news is that as celebrities, many men among them, increasingly share their experiences with mental illness, reluctance to seek treatment and stigma should continue to diminish. Recognition that mental illness is no different than physical illness in that it is not a moral failing or a choice can help people feel more comfortable with treatment seeking. Increased attention to men’s unique needs could help improve treatment utilization as well.

In addition to mental health stigma gradually decreasing, there are now many more options for men to become aware of and manage their mental health than in the past. Using a mood tracker can be a good first step towards improving awareness of mental health by helping you notice patterns or tendencies. It can also help you take a more objective view of how you’re doing, allowing you to view emotions on a longer time scale and less caught up in the moment. For men (or anyone, really) who are uncomfortable seeking treatment in traditional settings, there are many technology tools available today that can be helpful.

Steven Connelly  

Why do men struggle to express there feelings?

Due to the way young boys are socialised in education and in society, their ability to deal with emotions has been systematically undermined from a young age. Men are taught that certain aspects of their personality are not acceptable, they are taught not to cry or express in words, how they are feeling. In school, they’re shown there are certain games they should play, activities they should take part in, and rarely are they encouraged to engage in their feelings.

Television and advertising are a large part of the issue, due to the picture they paint of what a ‘real man’ looks like. Men are bombarded by images and perceptions of masculinity, muscles and bravado, and slowly over time, they are made to believe that being a man entails specific criteria. If they do not tick certain boxes, they are not ‘man enough’.

These perceptions of masculinity can lead to a deep sense of shame permeating throughout male culture. The perceived definition of what it means to be a man is not only outdated and ridiculous, but harmful, not only for the men of today, but those of the future, who see this as the only way of being. The idea that men are to remain strong, silent and capable is a total myth, and belongs more in 1917, than 2017.

Why don’t men discuss their feelings or emotions?

Over 3 million men in the UK have a mental health difficulty, and the charity Mind previously found that 37% of men in the UK feel worried or low. The top three issues playing on their minds were job security, work and money.

So, what is the cause of such high numbers of men experiencing mental health difficulties, and why do they find it so difficult to discuss? Here are some common reasons that men may find it difficult to speak about their issues. 

• Men often stigmatise themselves, leading to a deep sense of shame about having a mental health difficulty

• Men are often embarrassed to admit to others that they struggle, even if their troubles are considerable, and struggle to seek help

• Men often ‘put up’ with relatively minor difficulties, meaning these can become larger difficulties

• Men often don’t display traditional symptoms of mental health difficulties, and may instead ‘act out’, through drug use, alcohol or aggression

• All of these factors can lead to mental health difficulties being undiagnosed or overlooked

Men and suicide

The ratio of male to female suicides has shown a sustained rise over the last 30 years. In 1981, 62% of suicides in the UK were male, and in 2014 this figure had risen to 76%. Suicide is the single biggest cause of death in men under the age of 45 in the UK.

So, why are the statistics for male suicide so high? Men have been conditioned to be less in touch with their emotions, or to feel shame or weakness in accessing support, and often feel they have an image to uphold, or fear someone (another man) may find out their weakness.

 As such, men do not often feel comfortable in expressing how they feel even if they are having a bad time, because of the expectations of manliness, meaning they feel they should be strong at all times. Not doing so, essentially equates to them feeling as if they have failed as a man.

Masculinity and feelings

Masculinity, and what it means to be a man, has been implanted, grown and developed in the minds of men since their childhood. Men witness to the stereotypes of masculine heroes, who are self-sufficient, strong and capable. Often the role of offering emotional support is not one associated with being manly, and is therefore dismissed.

It is crucial men are able to have conversations with other men about their mental health and feelings, because it is only when the idea of ‘what it means to be a man’ begins to change, that men will be able to open up, or reveal about themselves, those feelings or difficulties they are experiencing.

How therapy can help

It would be wrong to say that men do not ever seek help, or that all men are strong, silent and dismissive of feelings. However, often it is not until a point of crisis that men seek help, leaving things until they are unable to manage them anymore. It is in these points where many men find themselves in therapy, brought about through a relationship difficulty, an issue with stress or an incident at work. It is crucial to recognise, given the past conditioning and perceptions of being a man, this has been an incredibly hard thing to do and accepting they need support is a huge step.

Therapy can offer men the chance to be seen without judgement as they are. They can be seen as vulnerable, stressed, and anxious as well as strong, confident and capable. They will not be told to ‘man up’. In therapy, men can learn to understand more of themselves, their difficulties and their thoughts, and explore the rich and diverse nature of masculinity, and see that it is not a one sided image so frequently painted by the media. Therapy offers men the chance to explore their pain and difficulty, and to ultimately, be more enriched, and enhanced, and to understand more what it means to be a man.

The importance of dispelling the myths surrounding mental health is crucial for society as a whole, as it allows for a more open and honest conversation to take place and lessen stigma and discrimination. The reality is, mental health operates on a scale, and we all struggle at points.

Gender does not discriminate when it comes to mental health difficulties, and being a man makes no difference to whether you should feel able to discuss, think about or engage with your feelings.

Steven Connelly

Suicide: It’s Not About Dying.

I know that probably doesn’t make sense to anyone who has never experienced severe depression. But if I can, let me try to translate the urgency to take one’s life into language you might grasp. Suicidal depression is like having to sneeze. The impulse can be so strong, that you simply follow your body’s command without thinking too much of it. You don’t think about your family or the reasons not to do it. All you’re feeling is an incredible itch to sneeze, and you’re certain that anything short of sneezing wouldn’t relieve you of the sensation.

There are many misconceptions when it comes to suicide. People believe that it is selfish, egotistical, and even immoral. To stipulate, I am speaking of suicide in the context of mental illness. I am not speaking about assisted suicide in the context of choosing not to fight a terminal disease or cases like in old spy movies, where the captured spy takes the cyanide pill.

As someone who has been suicidal and attempted suicide I can tell you with authority that the biggest misconception is that people who are contemplating suicide want to die. But if death isn’t their primary motivation, what is?

On good days, I thought, “I don’t want to die,” and on bad days, I thought, “Maybe today is the day I end my life.” But if thinking of suicide is so abnormal, what would make someone do it?

Pain, loneliness, and hopelessness can make people desperate and, in those desperate moments, a person’s thoughts become distorted. It becomes easy to believe that the feelings of those moments will never improve, and suicide seems like the answer.

As the isolation builds and depression starts to overwhelm even happy memories, everything they have ever done becomes tainted. While the reality is that they were happy before and will likely be happy again, their minds become clouded and heavy with one thought and one thought only: the pain felt in this moment will never end.

I have fought off the urges to die by suicide, I am here to assure you that there are other options.

The reasons people think about suicide are misunderstood because, to the average person, it makes no sense. Our bodies instinctively protect themselves from danger. We immediately pull our hands back from something hot. It’s without thought; our bodies do it automatically.

Furthermore, how could anyone give up the chance to get better? The answer is very straightforward: people who are contemplating suicide do not believe it will ever get better, I have been there, it’s not easy.

Depression is Temporary; Suicide is Permanent

The reality is that people who are contemplating suicide aren’t looking for reasons to die, they are looking for a way to make the pain stop. Since the depression, emptiness, and loneliness are clouding a person’s thought process, suicide seems to be the only way to make the pain go away.

The problem, of course, is that the assumption is wrong. Depression, even the worst depression ever, is temporary. The feelings ebb and flow, and while suicidal people may be tired of the cycle, they are aware it exists. Even without medical intervention like therapy or medication, depression will get better.

It is important to remember that these feelings will pass. Tomorrow is another day and you need to hang on and fight, quite literally, for your life. Suicide doesn’t end pain; it ends life. There is no feeling of relief because there is no ability to feel. But the pain remains. It’s transferred onto the people left behind. Many suicidal people believe that no one will miss them, or that others will be relieved that they are gone. Ask anyone who’s lost a loved one to suicide and you’ll know just how untrue this is.

While it may be obvious to others that a suicidal person has a lot to live for, to them, there is nothing left. They don’t need to be reminded that they have a nice car, friends, or family and they won’t believe they have “a lot to live for.”

Instead, they should be encouraged to fight for tomorrow. They need to understand that what they are feeling is temporary and suicide is permanent. Things will improve. It may require counseling, medication, or both, but it will improve. Suicide, however, removes any possibility of this happening.

Always take talk of suicide seriously. It’s a myth that those who talk about it do not attempt it. On the other hand, suicidal people often do not reach out to others, so it is important to be aware of the signals that could indicate that a person is considering self-harm. Acting withdrawn or agitated, sleeping too much or too little, and reckless behavior are common signs of someone that is thinking of suicide.

Steven Connelly

Negative Effects of Alcohol and Your Partner.

Alcohol such as Vodka is quite enticing as it causes intoxication. In moderation, a drink or two of Vodka occasionally could potentially be cause for a great time, however, with all alcohol, Vodka can cause problems rather quickly if addiction and irresponsibly set it.

Alcohol addiction can set in quite quickly. The most common signs of alcohol addiction are restlessness that only alcohol can calm, paranoia, anger, and severe flu-like symptoms when one goes too long without a drink. The negative effects of Vodka are numerous and can affect a person whether they admit to being addicted or not.

People that drink heavily often assume that any problem with alcohol is a problem with their own behaviors. If the individual is not an abusive drunk, for instance, they assume that their bodies are the only thing they are punishing, not their families.

But the truth about heavy drinking is that just because the individual may not be a dangerous drunk does not mean they are not severely negatively impacting their relationships. Alcohol effects on relationships go much deeper, and the alcoholic can cause rifts between themselves and others.

Alcohol causes people to become less sensitive to the feelings of others. Alcohol makes it difficult for people to distinguish between the other person’s emotions, and thus they may make incorrect judgments that negatively impact their relationship with the other person.

Time is an issue as well. Drinking is not a “one and done” type of activity. It takes hours out of your day – hours that you could be spending with a partner. Instead, that lack of time can cause you to drift apart emotionally.

There is evidence that non-alcoholic partners of individuals with alcohol dependence start to become addicted to taking care of their alcoholic partner, causing them additional grief and unfairly putting them in a situation they will have difficulty breaking free from.

Alcoholism causes a change in the individual’s personality over time. If you have a relationship with someone, and you start to show signs of changing, there is always a chance that your partner will not like the new you.

Steven Connelly